Buying soil mix for your own garden can quickly become expensive, especially if the garden is large or has different types of plants that require different types of soil. Many gardeners prefer to prepare their own soil mixture, since it is quite simple and less costly than purchasing soil from a store. The best all-round soil mixture should be airy, nutritious, and good at retaining moisture.
Part 1 of 5: Warming up the soil with the sun
Step 1. Work the soil with a rake
Select a piece of land from which you will take soil and dig it up. Remove dry leaves, weeds and other debris. Level the soil with a rake.
Do not use areas of land with traces of pesticides, chemicals or other contaminants. This will spoil your soil mix
Step 2. Water the soil thoroughly
The water should saturate it by about 30 cm. This will increase the thermal conductivity of the earth, allowing it to warm up well with the sun's rays.
Step 3. Cover the ground with clear plastic wrap
Hide the soil under the plastic. You can take a protective film used for repairs, which is easy to find in household goods. Place stones on the edges of the film or sprinkle the edges with earth to fix it.
Step 4. Leave the soil like this for 4-6 weeks
There will be many benefits from steaming the soil under the film, it will kill unwanted pests, pathogens and weeds. The ideal time for this operation is hot, sunny summer weather.
- Leaving the film for a longer time will cause it to deteriorate.
- You can periodically change the plots of land that you warm up with the sun, allowing plants to grow in one place, and steaming the soil in another place.
Step 5. Alternatively, sterilize the soil in the oven
Fill glass or metal trays with earth. Cover them tightly with foil and bake at 95 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes. Let cool completely.
Using this method will fill your home with the smell of earth, which annoys some people
Part 2 of 5: Composting
Step 1. Do not throw away food leftovers, grass cuttings and other compostable materials
Plant materials such as grass, straw, foliage, food leftovers, coffee infusions, and weeds are excellent sources of compost. Compost will allow your soil mix to receive nutrients and beneficial microbes.
Step 2. Mix 3 parts carbon sources and 1 part nitrogen sources
Carbon sources include foliage, straw, corn stalks, hay. Sources of nitrogen include table leftovers, coffee infusions, weeds, plant trimmings, and the like.
Never use meat, dairy products, dog, cat, pig or human excrement for compost. This can give your soil mix an offensive odor
Step 3. Place the compostable materials in the composting bin
The container can be purchased at a hardware store. It must have a lid and be at least 90 liters in volume. This minimum volume ensures that the contents can reach 65 degrees Celsius in at least two weeks. The result is fully composted material.
- Be sure to stir the compost (at least 5 times) during these two weeks to ensure even composting.
- You can also add worms to your compost to aid the composting process.
Step 4. Sift the compost through a sieve
When the compost is completely ready, pass it through a sieve to create uniform compost particles. The compost particles should be relatively small so that they can be easily mixed into the soil mixture.
Part 3 of 5: Adding Other Ingredients
Step 1. Purchase or mine sand
It will add airiness to the soil mixture, improving its drainage properties. Use coarse sand. Do not take fine and dusty sand, as it will, on the contrary, compact the soil.
Perlite is a good substitute for sand. Made from volcanic stone, perlite is pH neutral and can improve the drainage properties of the earth. It is not as heavy as sand
Step 2. Take out the peat moss
Peat moss, or sphagnum, improves the water-holding properties of the soil mixture. This is especially useful for those plants that require more water for a long time. Moss can be found at a garden supply store and is fairly cheap.
- Peat moss is highly acidic and may need to balance the pH balance of the soil mixture with an opposite component.
- Shredded newspapers can be used instead of moss, which will also help to better retain moisture.
- Another substitute for peat moss is coconut fiber. Coconut fiber is removed from the shell of coconuts and has moisture retention properties. It can usually be found in garden stores as compressed briquettes that expand when moistened.
- The bark can also be used as a substitute for peat moss. It creates a lot of airspace in the soil, however, it does not retain moisture as well as moss. Some experts advise avoiding bark as it can isolate nitrogen, which is a critical component of a good soil mix.
Step 3. Take out the vermiculite
Vermiculite is a material of volcanic origin and has a silvery gray color. It is represented by coarse-grained balls, which improve the water-holding properties of the soil. Handle vermiculite carefully so that it does not lose its porosity.
Use medium to coarse vermiculite
Step 4. Collect fertilizers and nutrients
A good rich soil mix requires fertilizer and nutrients to help plants grow strong, healthy, and productive. These substances include blood meal (a source of nitrogen), bone meal (a source of phosphorus), glauconite sand (a source of potassium), and other minerals. All of these can be found in garden supply stores.
Limestone is another common nutrient. It is used to raise the level of calcium or magnesium in the soil. Dolomite limestone is the best source of both
Part 4 of 5: Preparing the soil mix
Step 1. Put on your protective equipment
Gardening gloves will protect you from small splinters, and the mask will prevent you from inhaling dust and particles from the materials you will be working with.
Step 2. Collect everything you need
Having all the materials and tools at hand will speed up the process of preparing the soil mixture. You will need:
- Large mixing container - it can be a large bucket, trash can, barrel or other container.
Some materials will need to be added to the soil mixture in small quantities. It will be helpful to have a separate container to measure them accurately. It is helpful to have a 15 liter bucket and a 250 ml glass.
You will need a watering can and a hose.
It will be useful for mixing materials.
Keep a shovel handy if you need to mix large amounts of soil, peat, and compost.
It should be a metal mesh through which large elements and debris can be sifted out of the soil mixture. It is ideal to use a 5x5 mm sieve.
Step 3. Prepare your workspace
It is a good idea to set up a table for preparing the soil mix, especially if you are making it in small quantities in buckets. At a minimum, you should have a flat, open area for outdoor work. Place a tarp on yourself to hold whatever you accidentally spill.
Use a drum or large trash can to mix the soil
Step 4. Measure out your ingredients
There are various recipes for preparing soil mixtures, each of which is suitable for certain types of plants. In general, the following recipe is used to prepare a universal soil mixture.:
Measure out 1 part peat moss, 2 parts compost, 1 part vermiculite, 1 part perlite or sand. First, use a 4 liter bucket as a 1 part measure
Step 5. Pass all the ingredients separately through a metal sieve
To remove large items and debris, pass all ingredients through a 5x5 mm sieve. Wire mesh screening can be sold in rolls at some hardware stores.
Step 6. Pour the peat moss into the mixing container
Moisten any moss you place in the mixing bowl. It may be helpful to start by mixing a small batch of soil, rather than using all the materials at once.
Step 7. Add fertilizer and mix thoroughly
This will enrich the soil mixture with nutrients. A good fertilizer for soil mix can be prepared according to the recipe below.
250 ml of glauconite sand, 250 ml of blood meal, 125 ml of bone meal, 125 ml of lime and 125 ml of phosphate rock
Step 8. Add compost, vermiculite and perlite
Add all of these ingredients one by one and stir well. Turn the soil over while stirring to ensure an even distribution of the substances.
Part 5 of 5: Storing and Testing the Soil Mix
Step 1. Remove the soil mix for storage
Store unused soil in an old dustbin or other container with a lid. Use a covered area for storage. Don't let the prepared soil wash out in the rain before it can enter your garden, so choose a covered area for it. Similarly, do not expose the soil mixture to direct sunlight, especially in hot weather. A garden shed is a good storage space.
Step 2. Check the soil pH level
The pH level of a soil determines its acidity or alkalinity. A relatively inexpensive instrument is available for measuring pH levels. To check the pH level, stick the device into the soil. If the level of acidity or alkalinity is too high, the nutrients may be difficult for plants to absorb.
- The ideal pH for most plants is between 5.5 and 7.0
- Add lime to raise the pH, or increase the alkalinity of the soil. To lower the pH, or increase the acidity, add more sulfur.
- Prepare small batches of soil to test different recipes and use different proportions. This will help you understand how ingredients affect pH levels.
Step 3. Test the soil mixture using a bioassay
A bioassay is a test to check the viability of a biological environment. In general, the bottom line is that you are using soil mixture to germinate the seeds and observe the growth of the seedlings. Try sprouting oats, beans, or lettuce. Monitor the speed of emergence and growth.
If most of the seeds fail to emerge, or the seedlings are growing slowly, your soil mix may be poor in nutrients. Try a different soil mix recipe. Recipes can be found online
- Even if you prepare your own soil mixture, it doesn't have to be completely organic. To do this, it is necessary that all the materials you purchased for the soil mixture are of organic origin. Read the labels carefully, they should contain information about the organic origin of the materials and their suitability for use in organic mixtures.
- There are various recipes for preparing soil mixtures for different types of plants. There are recipes for deciduous plants, succulents, bromeliads, seedlings, and so on.